Blue plaque on sexton’s hut

The honour of unveiling the blue plaque on the sexton's building was given to Lions Club of Ashburton Pakeke members (from left) David Horrell and Jim Martin. Below, the humble sexton's hut.

An eighth Mid Canterbury structure has received a blue heritage plaque marking it as having significant historic value.

The plaque was unveiled at the sexton’s building in Ashburton Cemetery on Sunday.

The humble building has a steep pitch, leadlight windows and looks like a small church.

It is a place to rest and shelter in the cemetery and somewhere to reflect, remember and also to do cemetery research.

Designed with two separate rooms, it was built in three months in the gothic revival style and dates back to 1895.

It was used as the sexton’s office and also as a workshop for the cemetery’s monumental masons.

It was originally located nearer Seafield Road and was pulled to its present site by Hughie Rainey using a traction engine in 1947.

Moving it freed up more space for graves.

The original shingle roof was replaced in 1947, but after records ceased to be kept there in the 1980s it fell into disrepair.

A proposal to move it to the Plains Museum in Tinwald fell through, as did moving it nearer to Bremners Road to serve as the cemetery headquarters.

By 1994 there were large holes through the walls, badly broken windows and a rotted floor.

The sexton’s hut was a candidate for demolition when the newly formed Ashburton district branch of Historic Places Trust took up the challenge to save it.

Historic Places Trust registration was obtained and it was made a Category 2 listed building.

Once it was decided it could become an information centre, permission was granted for its restoration.

Alph Aldersley did the structural work and the Lions Club of Ashburton Pakeke painted the exterior and opened up the dividing wall, re-piled and repaired the upper level flooring, laid a new concrete floor and painted and varnished the interior.

Costs were met by the Historic Places Trust Branch and Ashburton District Council.

The building was officially reopened as an information centre by Prime Minister Jenny Shipley at a ceremony on April 8, 1998 .

Ashburton Pakeke Lions Club continued its association with the building, repainting the exterior in 2011 and employing tradesmen to carry out minor repairs, painting and varnishing earlier this year. A new door was also funded.

Historic Places Mid Canterbury deputy chairperson Nigel Gilkison said the sexton’s hut was a humble building that had important heritage value in Ashburton.

It had an interesting shape and was ornate on the inside.

The plaque not only identified the building’s value, but recognised the good work of those who had helped restore it.

Mr Gilkison said three more buildings – Speight’s Ale House, Ashburton and Methven’s Brown Pub and Mount Hutt Road Board Office, would each receive a blue plaque in the near future.

He said the blue plaque scheme, which had started in Ashburton and was based on the British model, was also being promoted to other heritage groups.

Timaru had two plaques up and three more to follow, Kurow had a plaque up and one was lined up in Christchurch.url cloneAir Jordan 1 Mid “What The Multi-Color” For Sale